Singing in Jail
Acts 16:25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. 34 He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.
Paul and Silas were locked up in prison because of their faithful obedience to God. Instead of being angry, or taking it out on the jailer, they prayed and sang hymns to God. They kept their eyes on the goal of knowing Christ and didn’t let the frustrations of the day distract them from what was most important. The result was that not only were their spirit’s lifted, but they ministered to others around them. God worked through an earthquake and many were saved physically, and spiritually!
I can only imagine that Paul and Silas were tempted to be frustrated. How could God be in the midst of their being locked up in jail? Not only were they in jail — but they were in jail illegally! Can’t you imagine the possible indignation and desire to let those around them know that they were being held by corrupt officials. And yet, somehow their legal status doesn’t come out until the end of the story. Whether they shared this information earlier is not known. They may have believed that God could use their circumstance for his glory and so they chose to walk through the difficulties — and have a good attitude.
They sat in prison and sang songs to the Lord. You know what happens when we begin to sing to the Lord? Yes, the Lord is lifted up but our own spirits are lifted because our focus becomes God and not our circumstances. They were able to look to God and praise him — and others began to listen in. This was not the way in which people were supposed to respond in this type of situation. But their response provided a way out. God was praised and glorified, the earth shook and they were set free. They could never have imagined that this would happen — they simply kept their eyes on the Lord.
There will be times when we won’t be able to see where things are heading. As far as Paul and Silas knew, their lives could have ended in that jail. But their goal was to reflect the image. They wanted to know Christ and so, we too are called to reflect our Lord. In the midst of those unforeseen circumstances we keep our eyes on the Lord, drawing ever closer to him, reflecting him and singing his praises.
Lord, I worship and praise you today. Amen.
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